Today I want to introduce you to one of my favorite contemporary romance writers, Carol James. Thanks for joining us today, Carol.
CJ: Thank you, Erin! I subscribed to InspyRomance on your recommendation and have been enjoying it.
ESQ: Please tell us a little bit about yourself.
CJ: I was an “Air Force brat” growing up, but eventually Ft. Worth, TX became home. Shortly after my marriage—over 50 years ago!—we moved to the Atlanta area. All of my novels are set in the fictional small town of Crescent Bluff, located in central Texas in the Waco area, but the characters visit other places.
ESQ: Have you always been a writer?
CJ: Not at all. Unlike so many authors, I never aspired to write, but I’ve always enjoyed reading.
I majored in English in college for two reasons: I liked grammar. Not writing (weird, I know). And I felt English was the one subject that would allow me to really get to know the hearts of my students.
In 2000, I was blissfully teaching kindergarten part-time in an ideal situation at a private Christian school. I loved my work, I loved my coworkers, I loved my students, I loved their parents. My life was overflowing!
Then came the drought. My husband lost his job due to some health issues. We had one daughter in college, one headed to college the next fall, and four car payments on top of a house payment.
When the opportunity presented itself for me to move into full-time work in the “real world,” I knew if I left the school, I’d be giving up more than a job. Not only would I be moving out of a safe place where my family was loved and ministered to, but I’d be losing what had been my personal ministry for years.
Yet I had to decide. One morning while reading my Bible. I came upon a couple of verses I had never noticed before. Isaiah 43:18-19:
“Forget the former things;
do not dwell on the past.
See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
and streams in the wasteland.”
On that day, at that very hour, it was as if the passage had been written just for me. God was promising He had something new for me to do. I just had to find it.
A decade of searching, and lots of trial and error, passed before the idea of writing Christian romance to encourage others began to nudge its way into my heart. Was I insane? Had early dementia set in? Writing couldn’t possibly be the “new thing” God was giving me.
Sure, I’d always loved stories with happy endings.
But romance? Anything but writing romance, Lord . . . People laugh about romance writers. But a quiet voice spoke in my heart.
Carol, the greatest story of all time is a romance. A redemptive romance. The story of a loving Father pursuing the hearts of His people.
When I typed the first words on the first page of my first manuscript, I knew this was the “new work,” my Stream in the Wasteland.
ESQ: I love that you have followed God’s heart, Carol. How many books have you published?
CJ: Eleven. Five everyday romances, five Christmas romances, and the sixth Christmas romance will release on 12/1/23. The journey has had its ups and downs, but I’m confident I’m following God’s plan for me.
ESQ: Thank you for joining us today! Friends, trust me, you will love Carol’s books. Learn more and sign up for her newsletter at https://www.carol-james.com/
Here is an excerpt from Carol’s 2020 Christmas Extravaganza book, Redeeming Christmas. It contains one of the VERY BEST ooey, gooey romantic lines I’ve ever read. Can you find it?
Dressed as an elf, Olivia St. Madeleine is helping her grandmother’s annoying, but handsome, neighbor, Gabriel Winter, get ready to play Santa at the local children’s hospital.
He sat, and she placed her case on the desk and opened it. She pulled out a zippered bag. Make-up.
“Would you mind if I ruddied up your cheeks and nose a bit? After all, it’s cold at the North Pole.”
“As long as you promise not to tell anyone.”
“Just think of it as stage make-up.” She winked.
She swiped a brush across a pink disc and then leaned close. The scent of her perfume was warm and sweet. Like her.
“I’ll be careful not to get it on your magnificent beard.” She bent down. She trained her eyes on his face and dabbed the brush against his cheeks. Then she dotted his nose. She lifted her gaze to meet his and froze.
He raised his hand and grasped her wrist. Her skin was velvet. The brush clattered against the desktop. She straightened. He stood and stepped closer. She held her ground. Never breaking eye contact, she raised her chin. He floated weightless in the ocean of her eyes. The seconds transformed into eternity.
What was he doing? She wasn’t like the others. And he was dressed like Santa, for Pete’s sake.
Did you catch it? He floated weightless in the ocean of her eyes. I still swoon every time I see it!
Leave a comment below and be entered into a drawing for an eBook of Carol’s 2023 Christmas story, The Hope of Christmas. Open to anyone with an account at amazon.com. Deadline to comment, October 31 at 5PM Mountain Time.